These words were just what I needed to hear in the first days when I was reeling from Tristan’s loss. Here is another family that has experienced the same thing! Here is a loving pastor speaking to them, to me! You will find it incredibly comforting.
“True Christians can commit suicide. Or to put it another way: There is nothing unique or peculiar about the final act of life that makes it determinative in validating or nullifying our salvation. Or let me say it another way: The final season of faith with all its battles and failures is not the only season of faith that will bear witness in the Last Day that we were born again.” – John Piper
I was suffering from shock the first few days. As soon as I was able to read I picked up this small booklet someone had brought to the house. “Experiencing Grief” by H. Norman Wright was my go-to for the first several months. I went through it slowly as my traumatized brain could only absorb so much. It is a small book, not daunting, written in simple language and from someone who has experienced grief first hand. It was invaluable to me just to help get me through this new world I found myself in.
I needed to hear from someone who understood God’s sovereignty and could speak to me about suffering. Joni Eareckson Tada’s book, “When God Weeps” put Tristan’s life and death in perspective. It gave me the bigger picture and was packed with scripture I could cling to. It answered the hard questions. It’s the number one book recommendation I have for suffering.
Hearing from God every day through someone who had experienced suffering and gleened Truth from it was very helpful. Here, Randy Alcorn comments on excerpts from Charles Spurgeon’s sermons.
I craved knowing what it was like where Tristan was now– Heaven! Randy Alcorn has an excellent blog where you can peruse any subject you need. He answers many questions about the afterlife and all from a sound biblical standing.
I use this with my daily study of the bible. The author goes through the whole bible and gives a short account of how God’s sovereignty affected real people in real life situations.
Sleeping was almost impossible for the first several weeks. What calmed my mind was listening to scripture themed songs sung by Shane and Shane. I found that their voices were the only ones that could express the deep pain I was feeling and at the same time their words brought relief because they use either theologically based lyrics or scripture.
I had to get up and live in a world where my son took his life. At first many mornings all I could tell God is that I didn’t want to. Getting up and going directly to this series on The Life of Christ kept me going. I was desperate to learn all I could about the One who had Tristan in heaven and Doug Bookman is an expert on The Life of Christ. You’ll learn things you never realized about our Savior. There are 29 videos but I could have watched 2,009.
As soon as I could stop crying and have eyes that could see straight I went right to the book of Job. I highlighted everything Job said that sounded like what Tristan must have been feeling. You’ll be surprised by what you find. Depression is described so heart-wrenchingly, and also the desire to die. I was so thankful to see that God knew how Tristan felt and it was important enough to be preserved for all time in scripture. These highlighters are a must. They don’t bleed through and each color can represent the topics you are working on.
Journaling was also crucial for me. I would read a Psalm or a passage in Hebrews or Isaiah and jot down the verses God gave me as direct help. Then I would write about how they helped me. It really helps to process your grief and see how God is working in your journey no matter what you feel like that particular day. I wrote nearly every day and quickly filled up 3-ring binders with notebook paper. I didn’t find I needed a fancy type of journal.
God showed me the difference between grieving and languishing. Now that I know the difference I can see what healing from Tristan’s loss might look like. I will always grieve, as Jesus did when He was here. But I’m in good company.
We used Tristan’s memorial service as a means to reach out to teens who might be contemplating suicide. Counselors were present and one of the youth leaders spoke on Suicide. All of our children participated, Tristan’s goodbye note was read, Todd and I spoke as well. Others have told us it is profitable to watch. I have not been able to watch it yet. God was carrying us through those weeks in shock. But I post it here for you.
Finding this Facebook page was a life-saver for me. Parents can share their stories and ask questions. You are sure to find some like-minded friends and know you are not alone. My favorite thing is that it is a biblically based group. The co-founder Jill Sullivan takes care in monitoring the content. The foundation of the organization is their retreats for bereaved parents. Attending one was like finally coming home.
I wish there was a Christian grief support group dedicated to suicide loss. I tried a general Christian grief support group but nobody else in that particular group had a loss from suicide so it was not as beneficial to me as it could have been. Many times I felt isolated in my grief because suicide loss is so different from other losses. That being said, if you can find a GriefShare group that has a suicide loss counselor or participant in it, that might be the place for you. You can find a group at Griefshare.org.
One thing is certain, grief is different for everybody. Todd could sleep, I could not. I needed music to drown out the flashbacks and distract my mind from painful memories of the night Tristan went to heaven. I found some headphones you can sleep in. There might be better pairs, but these worked fine for me. Always playing was Shane and Shane Hymns or Psalms, live version.
This was great to have playing if I had to drive anywhere. It kept flashbacks at bay, and kept me calm if bad memories crept in. The Scripture Lullabies series called “Hidden in My Heart”, is on CD, streaming, and Youtube. These albums have calming melodies with lyrics from scripture.